…NCAA says Authorities need approval from PTF on COVID-19 to reopen airports
Posted by Sade Williams
Aviation stakeholders on Thursday said only collaboration, new strategies including new technologies and automation are the key to surmounting the challenges that have been posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The experts brainstormed on how to survive during and post Covid-19 era during a Webinar session tagged, ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategies’, organized by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC)
According to the President of Aviation Round Table Safety Initiative (ARTSI), Dr. Gabriel Olowo, all airlines should by now have infrastructure that will allow its passengers check in online and avoid crowd and queues at the airport.
He said self-service check in has been activated at most airports globally, Nigeria cannot be left out.
“Self service check-in is needed at this time, airlines and airports should be thinking of how passengers and airport users can avoid meeting or having contacts with one another. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should also resolve the confusion in the tagging of airports, passengers need to differentiate between MMA1 from MMA2, but it seems to me that the airlines are ready but the airports are still preparing”, he said.
Also speaking, former director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Harold Demuren, said there is need to change the challenges to opportunities adding, ‘technology and automation are the way forward, we cannot run away from it.
“There is need for airlines to codeshare and do local Billing Settlement Plan, there should be single digit interest rate and availability of FOREX, the Agencies like FAAN needs money to put in place new infrastructure”, he said.
Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, expressed hope that the sector will rebound, but noted that only those who can think out of the box will survive the challenges.
“Everybody’s income has shrunk, every family need to readjust, the only way to survive is thinking out of the box, there is need to begun to think of how to be a gainer in this situation, there is need to review our strategies, FAAN, NCAA need to support business, bail out is not going to last forever. There must be strong collaboration by everyone”.
Also speaking, managing director of FAAN, Captain Hamisu Yadudu, noted that this is the only period aviation is grounded globally in this COVID-19 era but the responses and guidelines of Agencies to rebound and reposition the sector can only work when there is cooperation among all.
According to him, ‘we all need the cooperation of each other, the success of our responses is not the responsibility of only one agency, it will be good for all stakeholders to cooperate, if we fail to cooperate, the essence of the responses and guidelines will be jeopardized. Our protocols are out and our doors are open to suggestions”, he said.
Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema stressed the need to continue to create awareness to the public that it is safe to fly. He said the campaign that middle seats be removed from aircraft is not supported by his airline, adding that Nigerians will not be able to bear the cost if airlines should transfer the cost to them.
He also disclosed that airlines are disinfecting their aircraft and putting in place different measures to for the safety passengers.
On palliative for the sector, Onyema stressed that the what the airlines need is money to pay staff salaries since the livelihood of many workers in the sector are threatened by sack.
Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi, managing director of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) said resilience is what the handling companies and other stakeholders need to survive.
While also calling for collaboration, she said the airlines need to carry the handling companies along in terms of schedules in order to achieve a common goal.
“A lot of what we do is driven by the health sector, in the end we might have some job losses but resilience is the language, a lot of us want the sector to rebound, we believe that at the end of the day the worst hit sector will rebound “, she said.
Also speaking, representative of the director general of the NCAA, Abdualhi Adamu, Director of Consumer Protection Directorate, said there is still uncertainty in the plans to reopen airports, adding that aviation authorities will still need to report their readiness to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which will in turn give the approval to reopen airports.